Non-Binary Figure Skater Timothy LeDuc Aims to Make History, Earn Olympic Glory

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday January 6, 2022

Non-binary figure skater Timothy LeDuc is aiming to make history — and maybe claim an Olympic medal in Beijing next month if they secure a place on the American team together with skating partner Ashely Cain-Gribble, NBC News reported.

NBC detailed that the Cedar Raids, Iowa native "will compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships" on Jan. 6. If they land a place on the U.S. figure skating team, the report noted, "LeDuc would become the first out nonbinary person to compete in the Winter Games."

The account went on to recall that the 31-year-old athlete "is no stranger to historic firsts — they were the first openly gay athlete to win gold in a U.S. pairs event in 2019 — but making Team USA would be especially meaningful because LeDuc... hasn't always felt welcome in their sport."

The article cited comments LeDuc made on the NBC Sports podcast "My New Favorite Olympian," where they spoke about "people... [who] see that I have a beard or they look at maybe my physical characteristics and say, 'You're a boy; act like a boy. What are you doing?' "

The skater also recounted incidents of homophobia they have encountered in the course of their career, recalling how one potential skating partner rejected him for not being heterosexual. On another occasion, they said, a coach told them: "Timothy, go out and show them how masculine you are. That's how you will win."

Their family experience was just as fraught; when they came out to their evangelical Christian parents, the response they heard was, "We love you, but we need to change you," LeDuc recalled.

Cain-Gribble, a native of Texas, is also something of an outlier in the sport, the article mentioned, being considerably taller than most female figure skaters; NBC News noted that she has "been told her body isn't right for the sport."

And yet, the pair have already distinguished themselves with a series of triumphs, US Figure Skating Fanzone documented, including racking up achievements as "Four Continents silver medalists (2018), U.S. champions (2019), U.S. bronze medalists (2021, '17)... World Team Trophy champions (team) (2019), World Team Trophy bronze medalists (team) (2017)," and two "Grand Prix Series medals," among other accolades.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.